TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays staved off elimination from the American League Championship Series with a 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 4 at Rogers Centre Tuesday night, but they still have their backs to the wall.
Down in the best-of-seven series by a 3-1 count, the Blue Jays turn to No. 1 starter Marco Estrada for today’s Game 5 matchup against the Indians in Toronto.
“It's another game,” Estrada told the media prior to Toronto’s Game 4 win. “We've got to win. That's basically it. I'm going to go out and do what I've basically done all year and not really think about it as an elimination game. I'll just think about it just as another game.
“My job is to try to go nine innings and give up zero runs, so it doesn't matter if it's the last game of the season, the first game, you want to do that every time out. That's basically my thought is just to give the guys innings and try to shut out the other team.”
In a 2-0 loss to the Indians in Game 1 of the ALCS at Progressive Field last Friday, Estrada allowed just two earned runs and six hits over eight innings. However, as Game 1 went on, the Indians began hitting long fly-ball outs, but were unable to push a run across home plate, not until the sixth inning that is.
With second baseman Jason Kipnis on first base after a walk, shortstop Francisco Lindor hit an 0-2 pitch from Estrada over the wall in right field for his second home run of the postseason, a blast that gave the Indians a 2-0 lead over the Blue Jays.
Prior to Lindor’s home run, the Indians had just four hits and had left three runners on base.
“I don't really look at film, to be honest with you,” Estrada said. “There's nothing for me to take from that game. That's actually when the whole back issue flared back up, and I might have been throwing 82, 83 miles an hour that game. I was out there just trying to throw strikes and give the guys at least five innings that day, so there's really nothing to take from that game.”
Although Estrada does not take much from that Game 1 loss, he does go into today’s game with respect for the Indians’ lineup. And knows that if the Blue Jays are to extend the ALCS to a sixth game back in Cleveland, Estrada’s teammates have to follow his lead.
“It's an extremely talented lineup over there,” Estrada said. “You may say that there aren't a lot of household names. I think there are. There's a lot of talent over there. Guys just put the ball in play. And they're all pretty quick. They make those little plays happen, I guess. They put a ball in play. They're running, that hard 90 to first. But it's just one through nine, just like most lineups nowadays. They're extremely talented. Obviously we're in the playoffs right now so every lineup is really good.
“It's been really close. It's been a close series. I know we're down right now, but there hasn't really been a blowout, we've been neck and neck each game. I guess they've pitched a little bit better than we have, and that's basically been the outcome of this series.”